When Orthodox Bishops Spoke Boldly: Clear Teaching on Marriage and Family

Orthodox Bishop Defend Marriage Family Wedding Ceremonyby Chris Banescu –
The current societal moral collapse and the intensifying attacks on traditional marriage and the family were foreseen by previous generations of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Approximately 40 years ago, the Holy Synod of the OCA issued an Encyclical Letter on Marriage warning their flocks of the dangers posed by an increasingly secularized world and re-affirming the traditional, biblical, and orthodox teaching on marriage. The clarity of their teaching, boldness of their condemnation, and prophetic dimensions of their preaching are undeniable.

These shepherds saw the “signs of the times.” They discerned the growing darkness and corruption all around them and the seriousness of the cultural battles to come. They forewarned the faithful that the “moral foundations of society are collapsing.” They understood the ultimate consequences of a society that abandons its moral principles, abuses its freedoms, embraces the evil of abortion, is indifferent to the murder of millions of unborn children, and glorifies corrupt sexual behaviors.

We find it imperative to address you on an issue of crucial importance for the Christian life. An increasingly secularized world tends more and more to neglect the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and family. Misunderstanding freedom and proclaiming the progress of a humanity supposedly too mature, sophisticated and scientific to follow Christ’s Gospel, many have abandoned its moral demands. The consequences are plain for all to see: the family is disintegrating, legalized abortion is killing millions of unborn children, corrupt sexual behavior is rampant. The moral foundations of society are collapsing.

[Read more…]

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Orthodox Church Categorically Opposed to Abortion: Life Begins at Conception

Orthodox Church Categorically Opposed to Abortion: Life Begins at Conceptionby Chris Banescu –
The Orthodox Church, founded by Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles, bears witness to the truth that all human life begins at conception. The teachings of the Orthodox Christian faith are very clear and unambiguous: all unborn human life is sacred and innocent human life must be fully protected. The Orthodox Church regards abortion as murder and opposes all forms of abortion. All Orthodox Churches throughout the whole world and across the 2,000 years since Christ have taught and proclaimed this same truth without alteration to all nations.

The Court’s assertions in the Roe v. Wade decision, regarding Christian theology prior to the 19th century, that “there was otherwise little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation” of an unborn child is completely false. This declaration has no basis in fact in the theology, teachings, or practices of historic Orthodox Christianity. It is a complete fabrication!

The truth of the actual teachings and theology of the early Christian Church and proclaimed by the Orthodox Church to this day, categorically affirm that life begins at conception and specifically reject other theories based upon quickening or formation. These timeless truths were expressed very clearly in the Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) brief that the Holy Orthodox Church submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States back in 1989. [Read more…]

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In Rejecting Truth Man Dooms Himself

Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times by Chris Banescu –

The increasing darkness, corruption, and delusion we witness all around us are direct and predictable consequences of man’s rejection of God and truth. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn warned of the devastating consequences that follow when men forsake God. Dennis Engleman issues a similar warning in his book Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times regarding the dangers of man’s rejection of truth.

In rejecting truth, man, who was created in the image and likeness of God, denies himself and the godly nature with which he was blessed from the beginning by his Creator. He purposely blinds himself to reality and destroys the very faculty (reason) that allows him to find and discern truth. In rejecting truth, man purposely closes all “doors to authentic understanding” and obliterates the only avenue that can lead him into communion with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

When man rejects truth he rejects God and destroys himself. In abandoning truth man opens himself to all manner of delusion, falsehood, and corruption. He abandons the narrow road to salvation and wonders in the wilderness of “this world” at the mercy of evil. He forsakes God’s wisdom and embraces “worldly wisdom” which always leads down the road to perdition, to despair, suffering, and death. [Read more…]

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Prayer for America on Election Day 2012

Holy Spirit Prayer for America by Chris Banescu –
Dear Lord pour out Thy Holy Spirit on this nation and help us in this time of trouble. Give comfort to the suffering, strength to the weak, wisdom to the undecided, and courage to the fearful.

Master, You are our only help in time of need. You Who are just, loving, and compassionate look down upon us and have mercy on us and deliver us from the darkness and danger that now besets us. Deal with us not according to our iniquities, but according to Your manifold mercies, for we are the works of Your hands, and You know our weaknesses.

Be merciful to us Lord for we are in need of Your love and kindness. Help us elect a faithful, loving, mature, hard-working, and wise leader, a man of character and integrity who will bring hope, peace, and joy to a suffering and crumbling nation.

We beseech Thee Master do not forsake us and hear our prayers and petitions. [Read more…]

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Sin Troubles the Soul and Chases Away Inner Peace

Saint Jerome Orthodox icon by Chris Banescu –
Sin always troubles our soul and chases away our inner peace. Saint Jerome cautions us that the evil one is a master at snaring and troubling us with many kinds of deceptions. When we give in to these distractions and “begin to play with sin”, we fall from a state of grace and our soul is in trouble. We are no longer at peace. We become even more vulnerable to the devil and easy prey to his snares.

In our daily battle to stay close to God’s grace and find peace, we must not give in to sin, even the smallest ones which pave the way for greater ones. We must continually strive to embrace God’s truth and reject the lies and deceptions from the evil one.

Even if we succumb to temptation and fall, we should not despair and we must not persist in our sinful conduct. Often Satan’s greatest lie is to convince us that we are beyond redemption and there is no hope in asking for forgiveness from the Lord. We must quickly repent, reject the sin, return to Christ, and seek the grace of the Holy Spirit. This is the only way to stay sane and peaceful in the darkness and corruption of “this world.” [Read more…]

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Miraculous Dove Blesses the Gospel and the Shepherd

Miraculous Dove Blesses the Gospel and the Shepherdby Chris Banescu –
A miraculous event happened recently in an Orthodox Christian monastery in Crete. As reported by John Sanidopoulos on the Mystagogy blog and documented via multiple photographs (see below), a white dove miraculously appeared during the religious procession on the monastery grounds. The beautiful bird first landed on the Holy Gospel and then perched itself on the head of the Orthodox priest holding it. The dove continued to rest on top of the priest’s hat all the way inside the church.

During a visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the sacred Monastery of Saint John the Baptist on the Island of Crete, a white dove appeared during the procession towards the church. The dove first perched itself on top of the Gospel book carried by the priest. It stayed there while the Ecumenical Patriarch venerated the Holy Gospel.

As the priest walked towards the monastery’s main church, the dove moved from the Holy Gospel onto the priest’s shoulder. Then it flew and rested on the pastor’s kalimavki (a black hat worn by monastics and archimandrites). While the procession continued moving towards the church, the dove remained perched on top of the priest’s hat. [Read more…]

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Christianity is Truth, Not a Religion

Christ is Truth Creator God Christianity by Chris Banescu –
Christianity is not just a “religion.” The Christian Faith embodies the most important truths of this life and all human existence which God first revealed to Moses and the other Old Testament prophets. The fullness of that truth was then completely made manifest in the birth, life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “It is the fulfillment of all religions in their search for divine truth and human meaning as inspired by God’s law written on human hearts,” explains Fr. Thomas Hopko.

Our God is the God of the whole universe and all life. His laws and wisdom govern all creation and all matter, seen and unseen. This is why Saint John the Theologian so powerfully declared a truth that shook the very foundations of the world: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:1-5). [Read more…]

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Fr. Peter Gillquist – Memory Eternal Faithful Servant of Christ

Fr. Peter Gillquist - Memory Eternal
Fr. Peter Gillquist
by Chris Banescu –
Fr. Peter Gillquist was a loving and faithful shepherd of our Lord. Not only did he bring many in America into the Orthodox Church, but his powerful and public witness to the truth served as a guide and inspiration to many Orthodox. His work helped re-kindle the faith and inspire many cradle Orthodox Christians, like myself and others, to better understand the depth and richness of our Christian Tradition and embrace our heritage with renewed fervor and commitment.

Having been born and raised in the Orthodox Church, I have always believed that that the Orthodox Faith embodied the fullness of the Christian life and faith, Scriptural teachings, and liturgical worship as established by Christ and His Apostles. However, it was not until I read about Father Peter and his flock’s journey of discovery that I truly recognized how much of a priceless treasure it really is. The spark that triggered that awareness and forever changed the priorities of my life sprung from the pages of his book “Becoming Orthodox.”

Fr. Peter’s account of the incredible journey undertaken by the group of American Protestant ministers in search for the New Testament Church shook me to the very foundations of my soul. Here was a group of devout Christians who loved Jesus Christ so much that they dedicated their entire lives in searching for His True Church and in finding a deeper and closer communion with Christ. They did not have the privilege to grow up in the Orthodox Church and partake of its vast spiritual and religious wealth, yet they worked hard, searched steadfastly, and struggled for many years trying to find what was given to me freely. In reading their story I realized just how blessed and fortunate I was to have been entrusted with such a Pearl of Great Price and ashamed of how little I had done with it. [Read more…]

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Metropolitan Jonah: Our Battle is Against Secularism

Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly - June 2012
Metropolitan Jonah addressing the ACNA Assembly - June 2012

by Chris Banescu –
It is reassuring to the flock when a faithful shepherd preaches Christ and teaches the Truth at every opportunity. It is also uplifting for the laity to see an Orthodox Bishop who publicly and clearly proclaims and defends the unchanging moral teaching of the Christian faith and the Holy Orthodox Church. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, recently addressed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and his comments showed the Church and those listening why he is a worthy leader of the Orthodox Church in America.

In his remarks, Metropolitan Jonah warns us about the radical departure from traditional Christianity we’re experiencing in the West and the dangerous consequences of such actions. He identifies key challenges that Christians face in the increasingly hostile and secularized culture we find ourselves living in and the increasing persecution we will encounter. He also emphasizes the importance of traditional Christian denominations to stand united in opposing such falsehoods.

I have highlighted below several important points and observations from his speech. His words must be shared with the rest of the Orthodox Church and other Christians. The full text of his address is also reproduced further down.

(1) We are all in a serious battle with secularism. Christians must stand together and proclaim the True Christian faith, without alteration, without change, without revisions.

Our battle is against secularism. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for us to stand together against this enemy. This is the realignment: to stand together for the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and thence to the Bishops, without alteration, without change, without revisions; against those who would submit their faith to the current of the age, the wisdom of this world. We must stand together, and we cannot stand alone. Even the immense Roman Church is buffeted by the militant secularists, who defy authority and criticize that which they know not, and we can see in this country how increasingly fragile their unity is. [Read more…]

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